New Zealand Bishop quits to become missionary

Source: Church of England Newspaper

THE LEADER of the Church in New Zealand’s evangelical wing has resigned his bishopric to take up a post in North Africa.

Bishop Derek Eaton will retire in October after 16 years as Bishop of Nelson to become Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

A native of New Zealand, Bishop Eaton and his wife were studying in London when in 1968 they decided to enrol in the University of Tunis to study Arabic and Islamic culture. A request to provide vacation cover for a few weeks for the local Anglican vicar led to a year-long lay chaplaincy in Tunis. Archbishop George Appelton, the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem, asked Eaton to consider ordination, and after training at Trinity College, Bristol, Eaton took up the post of vicar to the expatriate community in Tunis in 1972. In 1978 Eaton became Dean of Cairo, returning to New Zealand to educate his children in 1983.

The Anglican Church in Egypt can play a “crucial role” in promoting peace in the region, Bishop Eaton said to the local media, as it is a trusted broker between the Coptic Church and the Muslim community. “There is a lot of good Christian-Muslim dialogue” taking place in Egypt he said.

“In New Zealand there tends to be a lot of hedging in those discussions, over there it’s much more direct. Good, direct dialogue doesn’t have to be confrontational.”

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